My Brand Failed a Really Big Test

If you follow us on Facebook and Instagram, you probably noticed that we have been showcasing a few Queens in the Queen City recently and the amazing work they are doing professionally and personally. I did this for 2 reasons: 1 - Supporting women [especially women business owners] is 100% part of my brand, and 2 - It’s a sneaky marketing trick. I get to give some love and marketing space to someone other than myself, and I don’t have to create the content to do it. Wins all around.

When I reached out to these women, there were 9 originally on my list. Only 4 agreed to be featured. And I know - mainly because they told me - that the other 5 couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do it because of the question I asked them.

I needed all of the posts to be similar in theme, right? And what is my ultimate question to all businesses and prospects and voyeurs of my brand? “What’s on your Next Page?”

The vast majority of them took pause.

“I’m not really sure…”

“Well, it’s kinda a long story…”

“I’m not sure I feel comfortable…”

“I’m kinda between two things right now…”

Most of these women were/are business owners, so it seemed that the next page for business would be at least somewhat formed, but even when I batted it back to them saying, “It can be about your personal life, not just work,” that caused even more discomfort. (Obviously, right?)

This is actually a really good test for the authenticity of your brand. And my brand failed. I’ve asked co-workers in a previous job if they would be featured on our social media channels as “living” the brand of our organization, and 9 out of 10 of them didn’t feel comfortable doing so. Why? Because they didn’t connect with the organizational brand, and they did not feel they could authentically speak to it. So this important question that I’m always asking (“What’s on your Next Page?”), is, it would appear, not a good question. Could I even ask myself that question?

After some thought, I realize that I would have a response, although I don’t know how comfortable I would be committing that to the eternal space of the internet. What if that Next Page changes? What if the story line shifts? The characters change? What if the whole damn book catches on fire and I have to find a new book to begin with? It’s happened before. It will likely happen again.

I get it. Our Next Pages are not fully formed, and even if we have the best intentions to move into those spaces thoughtfully, we don’t necessarily want to (or need to) share it with the world. My Next Page is also in flux, even if I have a good idea of how I want it to read. If I can barely share that with those closest to me, how did I expect 9 women to share it with me (a nosy marketer) and her social media followers?

To those that did - Natalie, Nichelle, Bre and Shannon - you are brave and beautiful and we salute your brilliant stories even if those pages have changed, or are currently in motion. We all should live with such wild and open hearts as you.

As for me, and this brand I’m trying to build, my unintentional focus group has taught me an important lesson. I am going to stop asking the question “What’s on your Next Page.” From now, I’ll state our next move: “Let’s turn the Next Page,” even - no, especially - if we have no clue what’s on it.

Cassandra D'Alessio